Abstract

Availability of fresh water for crop irrigation is becoming scarce and rather expensive. In this context, the research about the potential reutilization of non-conventional water sources becomes highly relevant, principally in arid and semi-arid areas. On many occasions, these new water resources involve water with a moderate concentration of salt, making it necessary to improve plant growth under moderate saline conditions. Besides plant breeding techniques, the use of molecules able to improve plant adaptation to saline conditions has great interest. Between these molecules, humic substances (HS) have proven to be efficient as stress-protectors under specific conditions of stress intensity and moment of application. The HS are main components of the soil organic matter and dissolved organic matter resulting from the biotic and abiotic transformation of fresh organic matter in natural ecosystems. Although knowledge about their structure is still under open debate, HS contain aromatic and aliphatic domains presenting O-, N- and S- containing functional groups with high biological and chemical activities. The aim of this presentation is to summarize the main effects of humic acids (HA) applied either on the root or on the shoot, on the metabolism and hormonal balance of plants cultivated under normal and stressing conditions, from studies carried out for our group and collaborations during the last years. Summarizing, all these results show HA as a promising tool for improving crop adaptation to irrigation using moderate saline water sources.

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